Roger de Flor

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Roger de Flor
RogerdeFlor.jpg
Born1267
Brindisi, Kingdom of Sicily
Died30 April 1305 (aged 38)
Adrianopolis, Byzantine Empire
Allegiance Crown of Aragon
Catalan Company
Years of service1282-1305

Roger de Flor (1267 30 April 1305), also known as Ruggero/Ruggiero da Fiore or Rutger von Blum or Ruggero Flores, was an Italian military adventurer and condottiere active in Aragonese Sicily, Italy, and the Byzantine Empire. He was the commander of the Great Catalan Company and held the title Count of Malta.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

The County of Malta was a Feudal Lordship of the Kingdom of Sicily, relating to the islands of Malta and Gozo. Malta was essentially a fief within the kingdom, with the title given by Tancred of Sicily the Norman king of Sicily to Margaritus of Brindisi in 1192 who earned acclaim as the Grand Admiral of Sicily. Afterwards the fiefdom was passed from nobleman to nobleman remaining as a family possetion in a few instances. It was used mainly as a bargaining tool in Sicilian politics leading to a rather turbulent history. The fiefdom was elevated to a Marquisette in 1392 and either title was no longer used after 1429.

Contents

Biography

He was born in Brindisi in the Kingdom of Sicily, the second son of an Italian noblewoman of Brindisi and a German falconer named Richard von Blum (Blume means flower in German) in the service of Emperor Frederick II. Richard von Blum was killed fighting at the Battle of Tagliacozzo in 1268.

Brindisi Comune in Apulia, Italy

Brindisi is a city in the region of Apulia in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Historically, the city has played an important role in trade and culture, due to its strategic position on the Italian Peninsula and its natural port on the Adriatic Sea. The city remains a major port for trade with Greece and the Middle East. Its industries include agriculture, chemical works, and the generation of electricity.

Kingdom of Sicily Former state in southern Italy, 1130–1816

The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of the Italian peninsula and for a time the region of Ifriqiya from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of the southern peninsula. The island was divided into three regions: Val di Mazara, Val Demone and Val di Noto; val being the apocopic form of the word vallo, derived from the Arabic word wilāya.

Falconry hunting by means of a trained bird of prey

Falconry is the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. Small and larger animals are hunted; squirrels and rabbits often fall prey to these birds. There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon; an Austringer flies a hawk or an eagle. In modern falconry, the red-tailed hawk, the Harris's hawk, and the peregrine falcon are some of the more commonly used birds of prey. The practice of hunting with a conditioned falconry bird is also called hawking or gamehawking, although the words hawking and hawker have become used so much to refer to petty traveling traders, that the terms falconer and falconry now apply to most use of trained birds of prey to catch game. Many contemporary practitioners still use these words in their original meaning, however.

At eight years old Roger de Flor was sent to sea in a galley belonging to the Knights Templars. He entered the order [1] and became captain of a galley called "El falcó". After rescuing wealthy survivors during the siege of Acre by the Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil in 1291, he went to Cyprus. Following some intrigues and personal disputes he was accused of robbery and denounced to the pope as a thief and an apostate. This resulted in his relegation from the order. Roger fled to Genoa, where he borrowed a considerable sum from Ticino Doria, purchased a new vessel and began a career in piracy. [1]

Galley ship mainly propelled by oars

A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by rowing. The galley is characterized by its long, slender hull, shallow draft and low freeboard. Virtually all types of galleys had sails that could be used in favorable winds, but human strength was always the primary method of propulsion. This allowed galleys to navigate independently of winds and currents. The galley originated among the seafaring civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea in the late second millennium BC and remained in use in various forms until the early 19th century in warfare, trade and piracy.

Knights Templar Western Christian military order; medieval Catholic military order

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar or simply the Templars, were a Catholic military order recognised in 1139 by the papal bull Omne datum optimum. The order was founded in 1119 and was active until 1312 when it was perpetually suppressed by Pope Clement V by the bull Vox in excelso.

Siege of Acre (1291) siege in 1291

The Siege of Acre took place in 1291 and resulted in losing the Crusader-controlled city of Acre to the Mamluks. It is considered one of the most important battles of the period. Although the crusading movement continued for several more centuries, the capture of the city marked the end of further crusades to the Levant. When Acre fell, the Crusaders lost their last major stronghold of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. They still maintained a fortress at the northern city of Tartus, engaged in some coastal raids, and attempted an incursion from the tiny island of Ruad, but when they lost that as well in 1302–03 in the Siege of Ruad, the Crusaders no longer controlled any part of the Holy Land.

The struggle between the Aragonese kings of Aragon and the French kings of Naples for the possession of Sicily was at this time going on and Roger, by then one of the most experienced military commanders of his time, was called to the service of Frederick, king of Sicily, who gave him the rank of vice-admiral. When the Peace of Caltabellotta brought the war to an end in 1302, Frederick was unwilling and unable to keep a mercenary army and was anxious to free the island from troops (called "Almogavars"), whom he had no longer the means of paying. Given the political and military situation, Roger found an opportunity to make his services useful in the east in fighting against the Ottoman Turks, who were ravaging the Byzantine Empire.

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Frederick III of Sicily King of Sicily

Frederick II was the regent and subsequent King of Sicily from 1295 until his death. He was the third son of Peter III of Aragon and served in the War of the Sicilian Vespers on behalf of his father and brothers, Alfonso ΙΙΙ and James ΙΙ. He was confirmed as King of Trinacria by the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302. His reign saw important constitutional reforms: the Constitutiones regales, Capitula alia, and Ordinationes generales.

The Peace of Caltabellotta, signed on 31 August 1302, was the last of a series of treaties, including those of Tarascon and Anagni, designed to end the conflict between the Houses of Anjou and Barcelona for ascendancy in the Mediterranean and especially Sicily and the Mezzogiorno.

Entry of Roger de Flor in Constantinople by Jose Moreno Carbonero Entrada de Roger de Flor en Constantinopla (Palacio del Senado de Espana).jpg
Entry of Roger de Flor in Constantinople by José Moreno Carbonero

Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus of the Byzantine Empire was facing siege by the Ottoman Turks, an Islamic tribe approaching the capital of his empire after defeating his armies and ransacking most of his domains. Looking for assistance from the European kingdoms he made Roger an offer of service along with the Almogavar army under his command. In September 1302 Roger with his fleet and army, now known as the Catalan Company, 6,500 strong, arrived at Constantinople. [2] He was adopted into the imperial family, was married to the emperor's niece Maria Asenina (daughter of Ivan Asen III of Bulgaria), [3] and was made grand duke ( megas doux ) and commander-in-chief of the army and the fleet.

Catalan Company Aragonese Company

The Catalan Company or the Great Catalan Company was a company of mercenaries led by Roger de Flor in the early 14th century and hired by the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos to combat the increasing power of the Turks. It was formed by almogavar veterans of the War of the Sicilian Vespers, who had remained unemployed after the signing in 1302 of the Peace of Caltabellotta between the Crown of Aragon and the French dynasty of the Angevins.

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul. The city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources.

Ivan Asen III, ruled as tsar of Bulgaria 1279–1280. Ivan Asen III was the son of Mitso Asen of Bulgaria and Maria of Bulgaria, a daughter of Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria and Irene of Thessalonica. He was probably born in about 1259/60, and died in exile in 1303.

Facing strong opposition from the powerful Genoese, some weeks passed lost in dissipation, intrigues, and bloody quarrels against the Genoese who were intent on keeping him out of the circles of power, Roger and his men were sent into Asia, and reportedly beat the Turks back as far as Armenia and Iran[ citation needed ]. After these successful encounters with the Turks they went into winter quarters at Cyzicus. In May 1304 they again took the field, defeated the Turks at Germe along with Byzantine forces under Hranislav and rendered the important service of relieving Philadelphia, then invested and reduced to extremities by the Turks. [4] Given his position of unchallenged military power, he was accused of serving his own interest instead of those of the emperor because he was determined to found in the East a principality for himself. He sent his treasures to Magnesia, but the people slew his Catalans and seized the treasures. He then laid siege to the town, but his attacks were repulsed, and he was compelled to retire.

Asia (Roman province) Roman province

The Roman province of Asia or Asiana, in Byzantine times called Phrygia, was an administrative unit added to the late Republic. It was a Senatorial province governed by a proconsul. The arrangement was unchanged in the reorganization of the Roman Empire in 211.

Cyzicus town

Cyzicus was an ancient town of Mysia in Anatolia in the current Balıkesir Province of Turkey. It was located on the shoreward side of the present Kapıdağ Peninsula, a tombolo which is said to have originally been an island in the Sea of Marmara only to be connected to the mainland in historic times either by artificial means or an earthquake.

Being recalled to Europe, he settled his troops in Gallipoli and other towns, and visited Constantinople to demand pay for the Almogavars. Roger was created Caesar, perhaps in December 1304.

In April 1305, he was assassinated in Adrianople (modern Edirne in East Thrace) by Andronikos' son Michael. [5]

The Company avenged itself, plundering from Macedonia to Thrace in what has been called the "Catalan Vengeance". [lower-alpha 1]

Adaptations

The early history of the Catalan Company was chronicled by Ramon Muntaner, a member of the company, in his Crònica.

The life of Roger de Flor inspired the fictional character of Tirant lo Blanc , an epic romance written by Joanot Martorell, published in Valencia in 1490. It is one of the best known medieval works of literature in the Catalan language, and played an important role in the evolution of the Western novel thanks to its influence on Miguel de Cervantes.

Roger de Flor is one of the main characters of The Horsemen of Death ("Surma ratsanikud"; 1963), a historical novel by Estonian writer Karl Ristikivi. Roger de Flor is the title and the main character of a historical novel by the late Greek writer and publisher Kostas Kyriazis.

Spanish poet Mariano Capdepón composed a play dealing with the last days of his life. The composer Ruperto Chapí used this text for his opera Roger de Flor (1878).

Notes

  1. [5] :The latter's reaction is known to history as the Catalan Vengeance: a two year devastation of Thrace and a two year devastastation of Macedonia, each havoc ceasing only when very little remained for the Company or their Turk allies to ruin.

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References

  1. 1 2 "The Master's Hand and the Secular Arm:Property and Discipline in the Hospital of St. John in the Fourteenth Century", Mark Dupuy, Crusaders, Condottieri, and Cannon: Medieval Warfare in Societies Around the Mediterranean, ed. Donald Joseph Kagay, L. J. Andrew Villalon, (Brill, 2003), 329.
  2. Waley, Daniel (1984). Later Medieval Europe. Longman. p. 164. ISBN   0-582-49262-9.
  3. Пламен Павлов - Бунтари и авантюристи в средновековна България
  4. Dimitri Korobeinikov, Byzantium and the Turks in the Thirteenth Century, (Oxford University Press, 2014), 285-286.
  5. 1 2 Burns 1954, p. 752.

Sources